After piped water, the pump becomes redundant, 
the handle chained down at the side: at rest, if you like. 
The pump turns into “what we used to have”, 
but no one’s minded to get rid of it. 
With war declared they strip it down and oil it 
in case Hitler bombs the reservoirs, but 
water stays on tap. It’s part of the yard, 
with the paving in dark blue brick sluiced out 
with a broom down to the drain. 
A piece of ironwork painted green, 
rusting into the wall, all of a piece.

It’s what they call “the vernacular”. 
Flowers in tubs do brighten it up, the pump 
redone in white, the name of the foundry and the date 
picked out in black. It punctuates the composition, 
sets off the door to the kitchen, the stone basin 
where they used to put the bucket 
planted up with nasturtiums that trail. 
The place all spruce for the visitors, 
now the redundant pump can stand for 
all the strength it took the kitchen girl to crank it 
and crank it till the steely water came up at last, and at last 
she could find time to become somebody’s grandmother. 
Somebody look at the pump and think of her.

©   Peter Daniels 
First prize in the TLS Poetry Competition 2010.